My pastor works part time at Starbucks. Yeah, it’s kinda weird, but I think it’s cool that he has a normal job interacting with unbelievers as a layperson. One of his benefits is more free coffee than he can drink, and I’m one of the people that benefits from his overflowing blessing.
Mind you, I’m not really a fan of Starbucks coffee. I think that name “Charbucks” is too uncomfortably close to the truth, but it’s free, so I can deal with it. (See, I’m not a snob! :-) When I saw the blonde line of coffees, it piqued my interest and I had to give it a try.
I was warned about this, but I didn’t believe it. I chalked it up to simply dark roast versus light roast. I’ve had the had a couple of weeks to try the Willow Blend, in regular and decaf, in my espresso machine, moka pot, French press, and as a New Orleans style cold-steep coffee. I *can* make it strong, but it crosses the line of no longer tasting like coffee, and no longer tasting a little good.
No matter what I do, I can’t make a strong flavored cup of coffee that actually tastes good. I’m really puzzled by this. I don’t believe that light-roasting is the problem; I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of coffee from Terroir, which has championed the practice of lightly roasting coffee, and it’s always been excellent without any difficulty making it strong. (Ironic trivia: Frappaccinos, which taste very little like coffee, were actually created by George Howell (of Terroir), and Starbucks acquired the product when it bought George’s first coffee company.)
It gets a barely passing review from Coffee Review, who describes it as: monotoned, flat, muted, lean, and simple. (More info on the CR ratings can be found here.) The review of the Willow Blend suggests that the weakness is intentional. I don’t know that it’s better than Dunkin, but it’s certainly better than Folgers and their ilk. But blond Starbucks vs bold Starbucks reminds me of when I was a coffee neophyte. I would buy Maxwell House Dark Roast not because it was “better”, but because it had more flavor (which seemed better to me). I’d now buy Starbucks House over Blond because it has more flavor, though it’s probably not really any better. I guess I’m just not the target buyer for this product. I wonder if I’m the target buyer for *any* Starbucks product…